"Flying In Self
On a recent trip from the West to the East Coast, I had the opportunity to fly the three-thousand-mile trip with hundreds of others who no doubt had the September 11, 2001 tragedy at the forefront of their every thought. The fact that the attackers attempted to assassinate the idea of American culture and freedom, will forever be etched in the memory of everyone who loves this great country. The attacks were focused at two of America's most cherished symbols of freedom-the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Offices. The increased security and armed patrols at every entrance and exit of the airport were constant reminders of this horrific event.
Noticeable as well, were the extremely long lines resulting from the detailed security searches of luggage as officials try to forestall future attacks. In these times of instability and insecurity, we need now, more than ever before to stand and defend ourselves from those who wish to do us harm. Whether the attacks are targeted at our national symbols or at our citizens, the rule of the day must be to defend by any means necessary.
While awaiting the departure of my flight, I witnessed the uneasiness of the pilots and flight attendants. Although, they tried to put their best faces forward, their eyes spoke volumes. I was anxious to hear how they felt about their jobs as it related to safety and the constant threat of terrorist attacks. What I discovered after a few questions was understandable, they were afraid and felt helpless. The passengers as well as the flight crew had legitimate reasons to be shaky. But as the flight crew continues to take on the responsibility to fly for a living, those of us who continue to fly for business and/or pleasure must also take on a different role and responsibility. No longer can we sit back passively anticipating attackers will land the plane in some remote area and demand some sort of ransom. As we learned in the Sept. 11th event, our very own technology is being used against us as the planes were turned into deadly weapons of mass destruction.
Your options are limited when you are thousands of feet above land and sea. These limited options include... attack the attackers and chance regaining control of the plane; wait to get shot down by the "new orders" of the President; or just sit there and and allow the attackers to control your destination! Why not go for it as those onboard flight #93 that crashed in Pennsylvania? The crew made the ultimate decision to take charge of their final destination and as a result, lost their lives but possibly saved the lives of thousands of others. In most cases, you will have more passengers than attackers. Perhaps some passengers may be injured or killed in their attempt, but I believe the odds of the attackers coming out on top are unlikely.
After, boarding my plane, I felt compelled to offer some ideas that could make the flight attendants feel a little more secure in their travels. They were pleased to learn of my twenty seven years of martial arts training and seemed anxious to hear pointers on how to defend themselves if attacked.
I suggested the importance of knowing the first rule of self defense ... awareness. For example, on arriving at the airport, one should began scanning passengers attempting to see if there is someone who acts suspicious or doing something out of the ordinary. One should constantly remind themselves not to get caught up in the race or gender issue as so many others do. One should be aware that people in general are not totally defined by their race or gender, but by their cultures, beliefs and more importantly their actions. If one uses race or gender as a barometer for choosing a potential attacker for example, they would have already failed the first rule of self defense. (awareness). The one you've chosen based on the aforementioned criteria, may be the one who assists in saving your life.
Next, I advised them to take a quick inventory of the plane and mentally note items that could be used as "potential weapons." I brought their attention to the cord on the head phones that could be used for choking if needed; as well the pillow and blankets that would be ideal for blocking sharp objects; the plastic forks for stabbing and magazines rolled up tightly could be thrust into an eye, throat or groin. Finally, the importance of being conscious of these potential weapons is one thing, but more important, is to know where on the body to strike that will cause the most damage. Learning major pressure points and how to strike vulnerable areas is vital for effective defense. Some of these suggestions may sound violent, but when it comes to protecting yourself, you may only have one chance!
Here are a few points to keep in mind:
There are several martial arts and Kickboxing studios that offer self defense classes. I highly recommend that you join a gym and/or attend a seminar that could begin your education to properly defend yourself. (for gyms and schools in USA Click HERE. for gyms and schools outside the USA Click HERE.)
Please note: There is a difference between taking a formal class of martial arts-be it , karate, boxing, wrestling etc., and learning self defense. Self Defense is more primitive and impulsive. It not only uses your physical skills but takes advantage of everything else at your disposal.
In closing, flying has become as much a part of American culture as apple pie and baseball. We will continue to jet across our skyways regardless of the ongoing threats. It may be slightly uncomfortable to develop such an awareness of potential attacks and potential weapons at our disposal. However, flying in self defense must become a necessary part of our lives. Our freedom was attacked on Sept. 11th and we can never forget it! Nor, can we allow those violent acts to completely deter us from living the American dream. We must continue to strive for freedom as we, even in the face of destiny and/or death take charge of our final destination.
Johnny Davis is a second degree black belt in Karate, a two-time world champion Kickboxer and author of Training Manual "The Art of Kickboxing". (Available in January 2002
All information on this page Copyright by Johnny Davis, 1995
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